On Walkabout At: Alamo Mountain, New Mexico

Prior Posting: Crossing the Otero Mesa

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After driving across the Otero Mesa using various remote dirt roads I found myself in front of the cattle corral that marks the start point to the hike up Alamo Mountain:

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There is a lot of water underneath the Otero Mesa and the various wells on the mesa filled with water for the cattle is indication of how much water is underneath the ground here:

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I parked my truck next to the corral and proceeded to walk down a dirt road towards the dormant volcano:

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Alamo Mountain is one of many dormant volcanoes that composes the Cornudas Mountains that straddle the New Mexico / Texas state line.  The volcanic past of this mountain is easily recognizable when viewed from Google Earth:

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The dirt road only took me to the base of the mountain and from there I had to break brush through the high desert scrub up the increasingly steep slopes of the mountain:

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After only about 20-30 minutes of hiking I soon found myself well above the cattle corral where I had parked my truck at:

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Something else I saw from my perch was this group of rocks out in the distance that I definitely want to go check out sometime because it looks very similar to Hueco Tanks State Park near El Paso:

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As I got higher up the mountain the terrain became rockier and steeper, which for some reason meant even more yucaa plants for me to traverse around:

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Doing some prior research about Alamo Mountain I became informed about some Native American rock art that could be found on the mountain.  This rock at the base of the mountain I hoped would be a sign of things to come since it had a few drawings on it:

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Anyway I continued to ascend up the mountain working my way up some steep rocks and eventually climbed up to the bench of land that leads to the final push to the summit of the mountain:

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From just this bench area I had just a superb view of the other volcanic peaks of the Cornudas Mountains:

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What else I began to see on the bench were the first signs of the large amounts of snow that has fallen in the El Paso region this winter:

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I also began to see quite a few antelope droppings which shows that these animals work their way up the mountain to graze on the grass that grows here:

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To reach the summit of the mountain a bit of rock climbing up this rock wall is necessary:

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It is nothing to hard to climb, but the snow right up against the rocks was surprisingly quite deep at some points coming up to my ankles.  Anyway I scrambled up the rocks carefully avoiding the various icy spots and soon I was on the summit looking at the rocky ridges below me:

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What was really amazing to me was the amount of pinon pine trees that are able to survive in the caldera of this extinct volcano.  The Otero Mesa is nearly treeless so it is quite striking to see so many trees on the summit:

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I then headed out across the relatively level caldera towards the northwestern portion of the mountain where most of the Indian rock art is said to lie:

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From the northwestern edge of the mountain I had expansive views towards the Sacramento Mountains:

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I also saw across this vast mesa the rising peaks of the Organ Mountains:

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I also had a view to the west of the Hueco Mountains:

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With an even closer look I could make out the distant Franklin Mountains out in the far distance:

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I walked along the northwestern rim of the mountain looking for petroglyphs on the rocks:

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And there was plenty of rocks to check out:

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However, everywhere I looked I couldn’t find the petroglyphs on any of these rocks:

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There are a lot of rocks to check out on this mountain and I spent about an hour and a half on top of the mountain looking at the rocks.  I even walked into the interior of the caldera looking for any possible rock art:

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The only thing I found was that someone had gone camping up here some while ago:

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It was fun though walking around the interior of the summit just taking in this wilderness of pinon trees and cactus:

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Here is the view from the mountain looking directly towards the south and into Texas:

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Here is the view once again back towards the Sacramento Mountains in the north:

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Finally I took in the view of the rugged Cornudas Mountains that lie to the east backdropped by the distant Guadalupe Mountains:

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I had no luck finding the petroglyphs on the mountain and would have to come back here when I had more time to look because I had to meet my wife later on in the day to watch my daughter, which caused me to abandon my search for the Native American rock art.  On the way down I decided to follow a fence line instead of breaking the same brush I did on the way up:

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Following the fence line was actually a pretty good way to go up the mountain and I recommend it for those hiking up the mountain.  All in all this was a fun hike though very remote.  I saw no one on the mountain the entire day and in fact saw one rancher with a pick up on the dirt roads the entire day.  The remoteness of this mountain makes it a great place for hikers that want to escape the crowds of more popular trails in places such as the Franklin Mountains.  It is a bit of drive on dirt roads to get to, but the expansive views once on top of the mountain makes the work to get there worth it.

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12 Responses to On Walkabout At: Alamo Mountain, New Mexico

  1. Nathan Newcomer says:

    Hi there. Nice photos and great story.

    I work with the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance and know Otero Mesa like the back of my hand. Unfortunately, someone gave you wrong directions for where the petroglyphs are. They are indeed located on the western side of Alamo Mountain, but they are near the base of the mountain and running about halfway up on the entire western side. Goodluck next time!

  2. Dobbs says:

    Thanks for commenting. Now I know where to look the next time I take a drive over there. Do you know if Alamo Mountain is the only mountain in the Cornudas range that has petroglyphs?

  3. Lori says:

    Thank you for posting this! And thank you to Nathan for the clarification on where the petroglyphs are. I conduct research on the two natural gas well pads in the Alamo Mountain vicinity. I am out there probably once a month, and like Nathan know the (southern portion) of Otero Mesa very intimately. The problem is, I am usually focused on my research while traveling and camping out there. Alamo mountain is a constant reminder to me how much I am missing, and I've wanted to check out those petroglyphs, as well as get a nice panoramic of the grassland for quite some time. I wasn't sure EXACTLY where the petroglyphs were, and stumbled across your page and wonderful photos in my online search. I can't wait to go out there and NOT be doing research…just exploring. Thanks again!

  4. Dobbs says:

    Thanks for visiting the site and I am glad you liked the pictures. I too am glad I know where to look next time I go out there to find the petroglyphs. A walk to the summit is well worth the effort as well because the views are just tremendous up there and really gives a good idea of what a unique wilderness the Otero Mesa is.

  5. Edith says:

    wonderful pictures, I was looking for a camp site in the area and happened upon your site.

  6. Dobbs says:

    Thanks for visiting the site and I hope the travelog I wrote you find of interest. There is no official camp sites that I know of in the area but judging by the fire pit I found on Alamo Mountain someone has camped up there before. The mountain actually would be a great place to go camping though considering how remote it is.

  7. Dave says:

    Could someone please give the GPS coordinates for Alamo Mountain. thanks, Dave

  8. Dobbs says:

    Dave,

    Here are the coordinates straight from Google Earth:

    32 degrees 01' 56.71 N, 105 degrees 38' 17.27 West

    Just get on Google Earth and you will find Alamo Mountain on the mesa to the east of El Paso. Google Earth even has a green little mountain tab designating it.

    Thanks for reading.

  9. paul todaro says:

    Wow…A great photo journal of your trip..My friend and I (both teachers) are going to be out there exploring in a couple of weeks..Any other interesting things on your trip to or from the mountain, on other parts of the mesa? Again, thanks for sharing the pictures and experience….Paul

  10. Regee says:

    Hello! Thank you so much for posting this. I’m so fascinated with the geography around here and was very pleased to see that at least one of the Cornudas can be hiked. I’m not the most experienced hiker-as in I haven’t gone out and done something this remote and without a trail…would this be okay for someone like me? Thanks!

  11. Dobbs says:

    Hi Regee, the hike up Alamo Mountain isn’t that hard for an experienced hiker. However, if you are a novice I would recommend going up with someone with hiking experience. As long as you don’t have any health issues and have an experienced hiker to help guide you up the mountain you should be able to get to the top. Good luck!

  12. Den Dresdner says:

    Thanks for the info. I keep trying to hike the Cornudas, but the short winter days mean that it’s already getting dark by the time I get there. Then it’s too hot in the summer! Ah well, your info will help me find my way; thanks a ton.

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